Naropa-1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998
I missed you and now miss you. I mean, not now, because you are here. (I just touched you.)
Of course you did. After all I’m newly 40. 15 years since pilgrimage to show Ginsberg four poems. July 4th picnic, him making graphite pizza from all my drivel. “Too many words! Too many words!”
He was always really kind to me, generous to Boog. That first summer I interviewed him for my master’s thesis and when we were done I asked Allen if Boog could use his American sentence poem—“I can still see Neal’s 23-year-old corpse when I cum in my hand”—for the cover of our new zine, ManAlive! And he was giving me a photocopy of it, and I said, “Any chance you could handwrite it for us?” And he grabbed a pen and went right to it.
He wanted to grab my pen too but I didn’t let ’im. (Ba-bing!) Brought me out for drinks. Best glass of wine I ever tasted but didn’t catch its title ’cause there I was in Boulder w/the Gins, Anne Waldman, Anselm Hollo, Andrew Schelling, Will Alexander. “I gotta get back to my buddies in Denver,” I said when I got too glassy. “You can stay w/me,” he said. “I know I can,” I said.
My first trip to Denver with Guy and Miriam, that first Naropa summer, I bought a baseball bat keychain with the logo of the incoming expansion baseball team the Colorado Rockies. 19 years, three lost in a couch in my parents’ house, and it’s still my keychain today.
That same trip, eating in Arby’s, John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” comes on loudly clear. Perhaps the best three minutes of that entire summer.
Almost every weekend growing up
we would go to my Aunt Marion’s and Uncle Saul’s
to play with my cousins,
Howard who had Knicks season tickets
in and out of their glory days,
Kenny, who knew more about
rock ’n’ roll than anyone I knew,
and Allan, who made Super 8
movies with his G.I. Joes.
In New Jersey every day lands on a weekend.
Saturday drive to Rutherford where Nat
Nadler kvells about the Exodus 1947
sea excursion that created Israel.
Friday in Montclair with a couple
I married, to each other, and their
daughter who says “Oh” every time
you say “Really,” “Really?” “Oh!”
Saturday PATH train to Jersey City
for hairy pot luck pot party wine fete.
Black velvet paintings down the hallway.
Sarah Palin. Bridgette Bardot.
I was in New Brunswick in 1987,
on manic high from activist work
with Abbie Hoffman and all in New Hope, Pennsylvania,
go to Rutgers to meet Eliot Katz and other organizers,
carrying giant duffel back and soft suitcase filled with summer,
(Suzanne Vega’s first album on tape,
and then more).
Eliot left me at a basketball court
and said he’d be back
and I shot hoops solo for an hour
or two, and then Eliot picked me up,
said we’re heading to dinner, let’s go,
and we went to a restaurant that was
not exactly activist priced,
and, a couple minutes after sitting down,
I saw my parents walk in,
and I was pissed
and grabbed my duffel and soft suitcase
headed to the train to the city,
more edged out,
and then bumped into Opatows
on way back from concert at the garden
and I regaled them with
summer stories and mementos
before they drove me home.
Italics are Sean and Roman is David
Sean Cole is the author of By the Author and The December Project (Boog Literature), Itty City (Pressed Wafer) and One Train (Dusie). His poems have appeared in several publications including The Brooklyn Rail, Black Clock, Court Green, Pavement Saw, and Boog City. He’s also a supervising producer at the public radio program and podcast This American Life.
David Kirschenbaum is the editor and publisher of Boog City, a New York–based small press and community newspaper now in its 29th year, and the festival director of the Welcome to Boog City events. He is the author of The July Project 2007 (Open 24 Hours), a series of songs about Star Wars set to rock and pop classics. His poems form the lyrics of Preston Spurlock and Casey Holford’s band, Gilmore Boys.
Image: “Focus” by Yousef Abdelmagid